If you enjoy the company of animal companions and live in the Bellingham area, you're in luck. You may have heard of “Cat Cafe" from the Japanese where animal cafes have been around for decades. Fortunatley, cat cafes are expanding across the globe—even to Downtown Bellingham! The trailblazing NEKO is opening late 2019, offering adoptions as well as wine and a heck of a good time.

A cat cafe's primary goal is to spread awareness for animal adoption, rescue, and care while providing a haven for like-minded souls.

The rate is currently $11 per hour with the cats. Proceeds go to keeping the business running, and the kitties healthy and happy. Children must be accompanied by an adult, and reservations are recommended (because all of the cats are very popular and busy).

The founder of Neko, Caitlin, says she was inspired by the cat culture of Japan and Vietnam. Their love, innovation, and compassion toward animals pushed her to bring that light with her to the states. In their mission statement, she expresses the benefits of such an establishment:

“We've got coffee, beer, wine & light nibbles all in the company of CATS! We've partnered with RASKC to bring you adoptable cats of all shapes and sizes and personalities. Whether it be a happy hour after work, a private party in your very own room, or Sunday morning coffee, we've got you covered! When reservations are full in the kitty room, don't forget the cozy bar & cafe is always a great spot to chill."

Services offered include cat themed pastries, sandwiches, coffee, and games. The growing industry of cat and animal cafes decreases shelter crowding and euthanasia risk! Bellingham Humane Society is partnering with Neko to provide and care for cats in need. As Bellingham grows as a college and port city, so must our businesses. There is little doubt that Bellingham Neko will be a commercial and personal success.

Not all cats will be adoptable, as some are employees! They get paid very well in treats, so no need to worry about unfair working conditions. The cats get more vertical and horizontal space to luxuriate in and get the benefit of a community without the dangers of suburban colony life (cars, disease, overpopulation, freezing conditions... etc). The kitties are well loved and socialized and look forward to meeting you all in the late fall of 2019!

If you are looking to adopt a cat sooner than late 2019, please check out the shelters in your area before seeking “milled" animals. Although animals from kitty mills do need warm homes, they are not always at high risk for euthanasia or neglect.

NOTE: it is better to get two cats/kittens at once, and always advised never to separate a bonded pair. Consider the personality of your cat and notice signs of needing attention or apathy which could signal depressive feelings — and remember that animals do speak even though it is in a language we don't usually take time to understand.

Even if a cat appears aloof does not mean they wouldn't ask for a friend, or more space, or time outside, if they could. Animals are smarter than we give them credit for. Be vigilant. Cats can get bored, lonely, and sad. Cats need other cats just like we need other people to survive — so this cat cafe is an excellent idea for both cats and people everywhere.